CHESTERVILLE — On a snowy Friday afternoon, Franklin County sheriff’s Cpl. Chris Chase pulls into the driveway at 85-year-old Dot Titcomb’s house, where he is greeted by Titcomb and her dog Molly.

The two chat for more than half an hour, while he asks about how her week has been going and how she’s been doing.

“You kick that bug?” Chase asks. “Have you been getting any better sleep?”

As he gets ready to leave, Chase doublechecks that Titcomb has his business card, to which he added his personal cell phone number in case she needs to get in touch with him.

“I appreciate what you guys are doing,” Titcomb said while Chase was getting ready to leave. “It’s almost like an insurance.”

Titcomb is among eight seniors who are participating in the sheriff department’s Elder Check program. The program, which began in October, has deputies making routine home checks on senior county residents.

Franklin County Sheriff Scott Nichols said in October the goal of the program is to protect elderly people from scam artists, to check on the safety of their homes and to make sure that they are not victims of abuse or medication theft.

An added benefit has turned out to be companionship.

Most of the seniors that Chase and the other deputies visit are residents who live alone. He said visits can range from a quick 15-minute check in, to a longer 30-minute chat. Some of the seniors are more homebound than others and Chase said part of the interaction is deputies making sure they residents aren’t being neglected or mistreated.

At a recent visit, Titcomb told Chase that she felt the program was important because it helped some residents get visitors to talk to.

“Some people are so lonesome,” she said.

Chase said for seniors that have previously lived independent, self-sufficient lives, it can be hard to ask for help or to admit that someone tricked them.

“If there is a demographic that’s going to be taken advantage of, it’s the seniors,” said Chase.

At Titcomb’s house, Chase said he’s taken out the trash when winter weather made the job hard for her and Titcomb said he once helped muscle open her dog’s bark collar to change the battery pack.

“None of use are opposed to taking out a bag of trash,” said Chase.

At their last visit, Titcomb and Chase chatted about their shared interests in fishing and hunting. Titcomb, a former Maine Registered Guide, recalled when she was able to get ice fishing traps for $5. Chase said the traps are now selling for up to $75.

“But they’ll last a long time, if you take care of them,” she said.

The conversation goes from fishing to chowder to harder times around World War II when she and her sister would see horse meat for sale in the Lewiston -Auburn area.

“But we couldn’t do it,” she said.

“Well you probably couldn’t even chew the gravy,” said Chase.

Chase said the program is close to capacity right now. The deputies check in about once a week on the people in the program, and he doesn’t want it to become a thing that feels burdensome on top of patrolling and investigating cases.

He said with Elder Check the program helps the deputies know the community they work in by doing community policing. Chase said “community policing” is a buzz work being tossed around recently, but for county police working in the 1950s and ’60s, that’s what police work was.

“That’s all they did,” said Chase. “The knew at a quick glance if there was something out of place.”

Chase helps lead the program and also heads another recent initiative, the Citizens Police Academy, which he said both helps connect the deputies with the community and builds good relationships.

“Who doesn’t like to catch the bank robbers and the bad guys? But this is what my favorite part of my job really is,” Chase said.

Kaitlin Schroeder — 861-9252

[email protected]


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